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6 Unique Places to Watch the Sunset in Portland, Oregon

Best Sunset Spots in Portland, Oregon

  1. Mt. Tabor
  2. Rocky Butte
  3. Nansen Summit Park
  4. Skidmore Buffs
  5. Council Crest
  6. Vista House

1. Mt. Tabor

  • Located at the end of Portland's hipster-filled Hawthorne Blvd., Mt. Tabor wins my pick for the best place to view a sunset. Here you can watch the sun slowly descend into the soft green/gray hills, and, as the sky grows darker, you get to watch the city lights as Portland's evening comes to life.
  • Hike up during the spring for beautiful wildflowers and vibrant flowering trees.
  • Drive up on a warm summer day and stay after sunset to stargaze.
  • The park stays open until midnight. If you stay past 12 AM, a friendly security guard, who I've actually met, will kick you out in a very nice way.

2. Rocky Butte

  • If you live in the Portland area and you haven't been to Rocky Butte, what are you even doing? Now that you know about it, you're obligated to go.
  • If you want a place to see the sunset and also feel like you're outside a castle, then this is your spot.
  • It's a steep and slightly precarious drive up to what's officially called James Woodhill Park (I've never heard anyone call it this), but it's completely worth it.
  • You can see Mt. Hood on a clear day and the airport on any night. View Vancouver, Portland, and Camas all from one place.
  • You can also bike the dangerous and narrow path up the hill, in the true spirit of Portland.
  • Rocky Butte offers a beautiful 360° degree view, plenty of parking, and plenty of room for you to bring your friends. Or, enjoy some solace by yourself.

3. Nansen Summit Park

  • This is definitely my most secret-est sunset spot. Secret-est? Indeed.
  • Atop a very high hill in Lake Oswego, Nansen Summit Park is a discreet and very romantic sunset location where you get a gorgeous 360° view. I don’t know anyone else who knows of this place.
  • It is just an 8-mile drive from downtown Portland.
  • There are trees that keep you from getting what could be a full view, so don’t hesitate to bring along your termite friends (just kidding). Joking aside, I do take my sunsets very seriously.

4. Skidmore Bluffs

  • Looking for a place to bring your date for a sunset view and maybe a picnic? This is it.
  • If someone hadn't shown this spot to me, I would have had no idea it even existed. It’s tucked away deep in suburbia in the Alberta/Killingsworth area.
  • This place is truly a gem. In fact, I even hesitated putting it on this list because I don’t want it to become overcrowded. But it’s honestly too wonderful not to share, and I’m just nice like that. You’re welcome.
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5. Council Crest

  • Council Crest offers a beautiful view of the city at all times, but it becomes particularly romantic at sunset.
  • It is said to be the highest point in Portland at 1,073 feet above sea level.
  • On a clear day, you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Saint Helens with Mt. Rainier peeking up over her shoulder.
  • There are many trees blocking a perfect sunset view, but Council Crest definitely still deserves a spot on this list. Feel free to BYOA (bring your own axe) and BYOB.
  • There’s also a really cool rock circle that forms a giant compass. If you stand in the middle and speak, it echoes.

6. Vista House

  • If you are a true sunset fanatic, you do not want to miss the view from Vista House, a historical building built in 1918 that sits high above the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge.
  • Just under 25 miles from downtown Portland, the Vista House offers an amazing view. It’s truly breathtaking to watch the sunset fill the sky and illuminate the entire river with oranges and pinks.
  • You can drive up specifically for the view, or you can stop by on your way back from a hike in the Columbia River Gorge.

Disclaimer: I should add that I don't actually condone cutting down trees in Portland. However, if the ones blocking our sunset views happened to disappear, I wouldn't be mad.

© 2014 Holly Battle

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